Soda Springs High School
Conference: 2A South East Idaho Conference
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Soda Springs High School Team Bio
Head Coach: Greg Bergholm
Record Last Year: 13-13
State Titles: 1943, 1967, 1991
Written by: Matt Harris
2A South East Idaho Conference
PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Bear Lake
2. West Side
4. Soda Springs
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jaxson Wahlen, Aberdeen
Jake Hall, Aberdeen
Dallon Elliot, Aberdeen
Avery Carlsen, Bear Lake
Trey Shaul, Bear Lake
Hayden Peterson, Bear Lake
Houston Peterson, Bear Lake
Trevor Howe, Malad
Bryant Corbridge, Malad
Henry Workman, Soda Springs
Riley Harris, Soda Springs
Dillon Lemmon, West Side
Cooper Hobson, West Side
Stockton Brown, West Side
Eastern Idaho showed well at the state tournament once again in 2016-17, with Bear Lake and Ririe doing battle for the title at the Idaho Center in Nampa.
The result? The Bear Lake Bears taking home their first state title 1996 and bringing home the South East Idaho Conference’s first crown since Malad won it all in 2006. And much like those Malad Dragons, who won their second straight title in ’06, Bear Lake has the pieces in place to make another championship run.
“Not a lot of teams normally return their starters after winning a title, but we happen to return four,” said Bear Lake head coach Brandon Carlsen. “There are a lot of people that are expecting us to do good things and we have had a good summer, going 24-3, including against some big schools.”
However, the Bears will have to begin their quest without the 2A Player of the Year, Avery Carlsen, on the court.
“Avery suffered what’s called a ‘Jones fracture’ on his foot during the football playoffs against Declo,” said Coach Carlsen, Avery’s father. “It the same sort of injury to the little toe that Kevin Durant (of the Golden State Warriors) suffered awhile back. We are hoping for him to return following the Christmas break. If he can get healthy, we have a very good chance this year.”
Bear Lake could absolutely use his services – the sharpshooting guard averaged 54 percent shooting from the field, including 38 percent from the three-point line.
“Avery knows what it takes to win, whether he need to score or just feed the other guys. He’ll do whatever we need him to do to win.”
Also back in the fold this year for the Bears are twins Hayden and Houston Peterson, Trey Shaul, and Walter Schwarting. Carlsen said that McKay Alleman, James Alleman, Zack Peterson, and Ashton Carlsen are also expected to make a big impact this year.
“We lost some depth overall with the graduation of Matthew Humphries, Kayden Romrell, and Sam Roberts,” he said. “We want to keep things going physically.”
The experience that Bear Lake brings back to the court this season could be a main reason, among other things, that they are in the conversation again.
“Our starters have a lot of varsity experience and I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond with a couple of guys down right now,” Carlsen said. “Bear Lake might struggle a bit early, but once we get things figured out I think we should be fine.”
The coach added that there isn’t one single person who can replace Avery’s presence or the play of Evan Nate, who is sidelined this season due to injury. Bear Lake must do it as a team.
Team ball is what the players know will be their ticket to success.
“We have a good defense and we are good at sharing the ball. Our players want to look for the best shot as a team, not as an individual,” he said. “We like to pressure and get after the opposing team’s guards.”
He then added, “It’s a new year and we need to create a new identity. We have the bullseye on our back and everyone wants to beat the state champ.”
Back in 2015-16, West Side was nearly that state champion with the targets on their backs. After coming up just short against the powerhouse Firth Cougars, West Side went through a rebuilding phase last season, going 8-15 in 2016-17.
But the Pirates look to contend this time around, bringing back a good amount of talent with Dillon Lemmon, Cooper Hobson, and Dillon Robinson leading the way for head coach Tyler Brown’s squad. They should be a team in the mix come district tournament time.
“West Side has a strong balance of veteran leadership and youthful athleticism this season,” said Aberdeen head coach Joe Ingersoll.
Speaking of Aberdeen, they are another team that could surprise this year. After going through an offseason coaching change, first year head coach and former assistant Joe Ingersoll now leads the orange and black and hopes to help his team see their potential.
“We are a talented group that has never lived up to the hype and we hope to change that this year,” said Ingersoll.
The Tigers have plenty that return to the court this season, including seven seniors who hope to get Aberdeen into the state tournament.
Three players who have led the Tigers the last couple of years are all back in Jake Hall, Jaxson Wahlen, and Dallon Elliot. They are joined by fellow seniors Victor Klasses, Bryson Foster, Dexton Wallace, and Bo Knittel, whom Ingersoll expects to make a big impact this year.
“This is a veteran team with a lot of experience and talent, probably the most talented team I’ve had at Aberdeen,” he said. “I’m excited and anxious to see if we can take the next step and get out of our district.”
Ingersoll said that his team has speed and quickness with multiple ball handlers. That should allow the Tigers to be able to face multiple defensive looks this year. He added that he hopes they can improve on their own defense and that they can peak by the time mid-February comes around.
“We have to survive the ‘dog days’ of basketball in January and be stronger for the district tournament,” he said.
A team that has perennially been in the mix in the South East Idaho Conference is the Soda Springs Cardinals. Led by head coach Greg Bergholm, the Cardinals look to reach the state tournament this year after falling in the state play-in game to Firth last season.
Back in the fold for Soda Springs are Henry Workman and Riley Harris, whom multiple coaches said would be the key players to watch for this Cardinals squad. While they lose a bit of experience from their guard line, Soda Springs could contend once again for a spot at state, especially if they can take advantage of their home court advantage, which many have termed one of the hardest places to play in the state.
Malad is a program that is building their program up once again. After only winning nine games over the course of the last three seasons, including one game during each of the last two seasons, Tony Gibbs takes over as the head bench boss and looks to restore the glory of seasons past.
The Dragons return Trevor Howe and Bryant Corbridge who will be the leaders of the new look squad. Thus far in 2017, they have been much more competitive than the last two years.
The South East Idaho Conference is a stronghold in 2A basketball in Idaho once again. Teams will have to bring their ‘A’ game every night to win.
“If you don’t come to play every night in our conference, you’re going to get beat,” said Bear Lake’s Brandon Carlsen.